Faces of 2016: Keely Andrew Leaps to CT

Daniel Jenks

Rookie in Action
Chances are that you've already seen QS surfer Keely Andrew competing in Championship Tour contests as a replacement competitor during the past year. At the Oi Rio Pro in April she made it to the Quarterfinals, taking down Johanne Defay in Round 4.

As the No. 5-ranked surfer on the Qualifying Series (QS), Australian Keely Andrew will join the elite surfers on the top-tier Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour in 2016. The Sunshine Coast native had her fair share of appearances on the 2015 CT, competing as a wildcard or injury replacement in four events: Rio, Fiji, Huntington Beach and Hawaii. Though her best result was a Quarterfinal finish at the event in Brazil, her experience in the contests helped up her game on the QS.

Before the new season, the happy-go-lucky 21-year-old discussed her goals and her gameplan to compete against the world's best for a full season.

Keely Andrew celebrating victory at the Port Taranaki Pro at the NZ Home Loans Surf Festival Keely Andrew won the 2015 Port Taranaki Pro QS 6,000. Those points helped her qualify for the elite Tour in 2016. - WSL / Will H-S

Age: 21
Hometown: Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Australia
Shaper: Jason Rodd, JR Surfboards
Stance: Regular
Favorite Wave: Noosa

Daniel Jenks: When did you start surfing? What's your first memory of being on a board?
Keely Andrew: I started when I was eight years old. I grew upon the beach, my parents would take me down pretty much every single day. I think my first memory was a pink foam surfboard. We've got a beach at home that is super dumpy and heavy. And I went out there and just got sandblasted for a good couple of hours until I finally learned to stand up.

DJ: So you learned the hard way, you might say.
KA: Yup, dad pushed us into closeouts to get used to it.

I went out there and just got sandblasted for a good couple of hours until I finally learned to stand up.

DJ: What's your impression of the status of women's surfing? Is there someone you really look up to?
KA: I think women's surfing is probably in the best place it's ever been. The stops on Tour are pretty amazing, having Hawaii and Fiji. It's super cool to see Carissa (Moore) and Steph (Gilmore) just keeping pushing and pushing. And Lakey (Peterson), Tyler (Wright) and Sally (Fitzgibbons) just pushing the standard up. Even on the QS it's an extremely high standard now compared to when I first started. It's gotten a lot harder to qualify and all the girls are absolutely ripping. For me I've always looked up to Coco Ho, she's always been my favorite and to be able to surf heats against her on the QS before even getting on the CT is really cool.

Andrew's Strong Start in Maui
Keely Andrew put some pressure on World Title hopeful Courtney Conlogue during the Target Maui Pro, earning a 7.50 to start the heat.

DJ: How you are you feeling about qualifying?
KA: I'm super excited, I've always dreamt of being on the World Tour and for it to finally come true feels amazing.

DJ: You got to surf in a few Championship Tour events in 2015. What did you learn?
KA: I was fortunate enough to get a couple of starts in the CT this year and I learned what standard the girls are at and how they surf their heats. How much their gameplan has changed, it's always very strategic. You can't be any less than that standard to make a heat, you can't slack off.

DJ: Do you have a specific goal in mind for your rookie year?
KA: Just to requalify through the CT, to stay in that Top 10 the whole year and turn a few heads with a few really good results.

DJ: Are there any stops that you're particularly nervous or excited about?
KA: I haven't been to Margaret River yet, but I'll be going before [the event]. I think I've been to every other spot. I'm definitely most excited for Snapper Rocks, it's the closest event to home for me and it's such an amazing wave. Also, super excited for Trestles because that wave is just a skatepark!

I'm working on what I have to do get fired up and to switch it off.

DJ: What do you consider strongest in your competitive game? What do you hang your hat on in terms of confidence?
KA: For me, I base a lot of my surfing off speed and I think I can use my speed, power and flow to my advantage. Physically I will definitely be pretty high up there, but mentally is what I'm working on now.

DJ: Can you expand on that? What are you working on in terms of your mental strategy?
KA: I'm working on switching my mind on and off. What I have to do get fired up and what I have to do to switch it off. Around events you don't want to constantly be thinking about competition.

DJ: Do you have a maneuver you're working on to use in some heats next season?
KA: I'm a big fan of fin throws. I've been working hard on going big, but having a lot of control. Trying to get the full rotation, make it look critical with a lot of control.

Keely Andrew (AUS) snaps the lip during Round 3. Andrew making the most of challenging conditions at the Oi Rio Pro. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

DJ: You mentioned you don't have much experience at Margaret River in Western Australia. Does taking on heavier surf weigh on you at all?
KA: Definitely. Coming from the Sunshine coast we don't have those sort of [heavy waves]. It does weigh on me a little bit, but I've been training a lot and doing breath enhancement training, all those little parts give me a lot of confidence. And next year I'm just going to go for it and hopefully everything will fall into place.

DJ: Do you have a coach or family members who will be traveling with you next year?
KA: My mum will be with me at every single event and hopefully my dad will be able to make most of them. My coach, Tim Just, will be there for the Australian leg and for Brazil. I've been working with him about three years now. Just having that extra set of eyes on the water and bringing that extra bit of home with me, I think that will give me a lot of confidence.

Andrew Navigates Cloudbreak
At the 2015 Fiji Pro, Andrew only made it to Round 2 before she was eliminated. But the experience should help her at one of the Tour's heavier spots.

DJ: Who's your shaper? Have you begun working on your quiver for the Championship Tour?
KA: It's in the making right now. Jason Rodd, JR Surfboards, is my shaper. He's making heaps of performance boards for the CT and really good grovelers for the QS events.

DJ: What are three things unrelated to surfing you take with you everywhere?
KA: My cell Phone, flight socks and a book!

DJ: Hardest question: Describe yourself in three words.
KA: Relaxed, funny and happy.

Don't miss Keely Andrew make her debut as a member of the elite Tour at the 2016 Roxy Pro Gold Coast live on the World Surf League website and app.